Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The First Crime I Ever Committed

Guys. I know clickbait is dated, so I'm not even going to try it. The following event is 100% true to the title of this post... and also illegal.

Please, don't try this at (your) home(town).

this image is 100 percent authentic. pls don't h8.

As mentioned in countless previous posts, I was a very unproblematic child. I followed the rules and never gave my parents any issues. In fact, my impeccable behavior from my birth till my early teens is still spoken of highly as legendary family lore: I was that one girl who displayed model behavior at all times.

Which is why my ONE unlawful activity haunts me to this day.

What makes it worse is.... I was 9 years old.

Now, to understand the reasoning behind my actions, you need to be aware of my backstory first. My parents were smokers all throughout my childhood - my mum did it occasionally, but my dad was an addict. Growing up around this act, I never thought anything of it. In fact, I thought smoking was just something everyone did when they grew up (this thought was enabled due to literally every uncle, aunt, family-friend, house-help etc present in my childhood being a smoker as well).

It wasn't until third or fourth grade when I actually began learning about the harmful impact smoking had on one's body and health. Let me tell you... from a child's perspective, seeing a fresh pink lung compared to a rotten black one in a textbook is simultaneously the most fascinating and horrifying thing on the planet.

This is when I became acutely aware of the danger that my family members surrounded themselves with. Me and my little brother (who got a sneak peek of the blackened textbook lung in my homework) became my parents' worst nightmare - constantly talking to them about cancer, heart disease and strokes. We would cough in an exaggerated fashion whenever one of them lit up a cigarette, and always throw unpleasant (but very real) smoking-related death statistics at them at any opportunity.

Soon, it became too much for my mum to deal with. My brother had a breakthrough with her - after a tearful plea begging her to not kill herself through her actions, my mum was consumed with guilt and burnt out her final cigarette.

It was a success for my brother and I - but only fifty percent. My dad still smoked. Nothing went through to him. Every new year, he would make a resolution to not smoke... only to break it within the first 12 hours. He went through a pack or more a day, and seemed to turn a deaf ear to anything my brother and I had to say about the harm he was inflicting upon himself.

During this time, my brother, parents and I used to live with our grandparents. (Desi joint family systems, amirite?) This meant that I would accompany my grandma on her many grocery shopping excursions while my mum and dad worked or just existed fabulously and worry-free at home.

It was one of these grocery shopping trips that led to my very first criminal activity.

I was casually chilling in the checkout line when I saw something on the shelves on the side. In any normal supermarket, these shelves are reserved for gum. Or maybe your odd tabloid magazine. Or a hand sanitizer.

But nooo. This random supermarket in the heart of my hometown had...

Nicotine pills.

First of all, what???

Second of all... this was a huge breakthrough. 9 year old me had no idea that there was such advanced medical technology out there that could aid a person in their journey to stop smoking. According to the packaging, these nicotine pills were a substitute for cigarettes, and could help people quit smoking. I was enthralled, and a hundred percent convinced that this was the miracle cure my dad needed.

But there was a hitch. I was just a child, and a broke one at that. Since my grandma was the only adult in this situation who had any actual ability to purchase these nicotine pills, I obviously thought to ask her to buy them. There was no way she would say no, right? After all, it was her son-in-law we were talking about. The father of her grandchildren. These pills could help him stop smoking. They could save him from the legendary textbook black lung!!!! It was practically life-and-death.

So imagine my horror when my grandma said no.

''These things are just a gimmick,'' she said. ''Plus, they're too expensive.''

I was gobsmacked. Here's an accurate representation of my thought process:

I was torn. While 9 year old me couldn't understand the concept of a gimmick (perhaps due to the fact that I was raised on homeopathic medicine as a child ... um... how am I still alive? It cured my asthma btw) but I definitely did get that the nicotine pills might have been too expensive for my grandma to frivolously spend money on. If I recall correctly, it was a total of 150 rupees... which is close to nothing now, but back then it must have had some value.

I had only a few seconds to think. It was our turn at the checkout counter. My grandma was loading the groceries on the conveyor belt. The thought of being so close to what seemed like a miracle cure for my dad's smoking habit and not being able to attain it was killing me.

It was here that I made my decision... to commit a crime.

I edged as close to the pills as I could without looking suspicious. The checkout man was old and seemed too busy scanning my grandma's groceries to notice me. A quick glance around the supermarket showed that literally no one gave a single fuck about what I was about to do.

In one swift motion, I grabbed a bottle of pills and pocketed it.

That was it. It was in my pocket, hence I was in too deep to back out now. If I took the pills out, someone might have seen me and question why it was in my pocket in the first place. So there was nothing else I could do but pretend that absolutely nothing happened and pray that no one noticed the slight bulge in the side of my dress.

The few minutes that took place while the groceries were being bagged and paid for were the most agonizing of my life. Just knowing that I had unlawfully swiped something from the grocery store and that the item in question was literally in my pocket while my grandma was making a completely lawful transaction like the law-abiding citizen she is.... Um. Let's just say it was a lot.

In those days, supermarkets at my hometown didn't have those fancy gates that beeped if you passed them with something you hadn't paid for. Since I had managed to evade the eyes of my grandma, the checkout guy, any form of security and all the other shoppers alike, I had successfully completed my first ever crime.


Was I proud? Definitely not. But there certainly was a feeling of joy creeping over me once I realized that I had gotten away with stealing the nicotine pills. Only because, in my head, it was rationalized with the notion of helping my dad break his addiction to cigarettes. Which obviously meant that I was saving his life (... right?).

It took me a couple of days to actually present the pills to my dad. Once I did, he questioned me about where I got them from. Did I break down and confess my crime, return the bottle and clear my conscience? Nope. 9 year old me was slick. I told him that I had saved up money for week in order to buy these for him, and I bought them on a trip to the grocery store with my grandma. (Yes, apart from my full-time job as a grocery store burglar, I also dabbled in lying.)

The look on my dad's face was one to remember. At the time I thought he wore an expression of overwhelming pride and joy for the lengths his little girl would go to protect her dad from harm. Looking back though, it definitely seemed like a look of exasperation mingled with pity.

 My dad thanked me and took the bottle from my hand.

SUCCESS! I thought to myself. I had done it. My dad would take a pill, realize that he didn't need cigarettes anymore, chuck them out, and start a new life as a healthy man.

I had done it.


Or so I thought.

It literally took my dad two days to pull out a cigarette and smoke it in front of me with no shame. When I questioned him about the pills, he said they had helped reduce the number of cigarettes he had in a day, and they were certainly working.

I'm pretty sure he was bullshitting, because this man did not stop smoking for the next 14 years. He continued making his new years resolutions, and also continued to break them. He swore he would stop when my little sister was born, but he literally stepped out for a smoke break at the hospital after she arrived into this world. He smoked after every meal, and during every drive. He smoked when he was stressed, and when he was happy.

His final cigarette was just before he doubled up in the middle of our living room with a heart attack.

Don't worry, he survived.


No thanks to the theft I committed at age 9. My first crime.

Looking back at all these events, I wonder if stealing was worth it. (Definitely not). I also wonder if the grocery store ever realised that they had one bottle of nicotine pills missing from their inventory. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and think about doing the right thing and sending them 150 rupees just to atone for my sins. (In this day and age, that might not even cover the cost of a stick of gum, but whatever.) I also can't help but wonder if all the shitty events in my life are due to karma for stealing those very pills from an honest business (regardless of my very pure intentions). Who knows.

ANYWAY. I feel like I need to let everyone know that this was the first and last time I ever stole anything from anyone or anywhere. Contrary to what you might think, I do not have an illustrious history of criminal activity. I'm serious. Have I committed other... not-so-serious crimes though? Yes. This post wasn't titled 'The FIRST Crime I Ever Committed' by mistake. There have been other minor illegalities that have taken place in my life. And not all of them took place in my childhood.

Maybe I'll write about them when the shame wears off.

See you really soon,



Aabi said...

OHMYGOD! The comics are back! I didn't realize how much I missed them until I saw them. I'm so glad I'm not the only person who had this reaction to smoking adults. I remember when my cousin once told me that my elder brothers smoke sometimes, I actually started crying and telling her I would sue her for defamation. So I can definitely relate to that brand of well-intentioned childhood personality thats just too much for adults. Really glad your dad is fine now and has stopped smoking. Can't wait to hear about this other criminal activity too!

Kashaf A. said...

This was such a great read. All the while i was thinking about my own crimes, haha. I think I was 7 when I first stole something. It was a mango from a fruit vendor! my aunt was buying mangoes but i wanted one MORE because there's no such thing as too many mangoes, amirite?
I hope your dad is doing well. loving the doodles!

Unknown said...

This was such an amazing read and not what I expected. I really had tears when you explained the reason behind your first crime. Loved it so so much. Keep writing and hope your dad is doing well now. :D

Martin Alexander said...

That was a very sweet story.
I know you know your story better than I do, but I think that stealing those pills was technically worth it if your pops got to realize how smart you were and how much his kids cared about his health.
No possible way you've received some negative karma from that.
If you did, I am officially unsubscribing from the karmic services of the universe...

Do you think you and your brother were exposed to much secondhand smoke as kids? Do you think it may have had some sort of connection to your asthma?
More importantly, did you brother have a mullet as a kid, or is that just a little extra shading over his shoulder??
Most importantly, your dress had pockets?! The designer of said dress must've been way ahead of the times!

If it makes you feel any better, I was even younger than you when I had my first attempted robbery.
I was out shopping with my parents (pretty sure I was around 6 or so) this one time, and I remember wandering about as they were looking at some shoes. Anyways, as we were walking out, the alarm started beeping. I remember my dad looking puzzled and walking back and forth a few times. They were fine. It's when I started walking through that they realized they had to check the pockets in my jacket pockets. Turns out I had stuffed my pockets with anti-theft devices I had picked up throughout the story because I thought they were cool toys to play with. I still remember the smooth, plastic pieces being shaped like a UFO, or a fried egg.

Anyways, they emptied my pockets and my parents and the guy at the register all had a big laugh at my expense.

Holy shit, though. I was afraid of where the story was headed once I caught a glimpse of that hospital picture.
How long ago was that??
Anyway, I'm glad he's doing better and finally managed to quit!

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your life of crime :)

Unknown said...

Definitely a good read. :)

Laila N Mysis said...

I love the way you write, and your comics, you are an inspiration. I wish I had childhood crimes to speak of so entertainingly...

Hanis said...


This is a cute story. I remember trying to guilt trip my dad for his health but it never worked.



Tazeen said...

Loved reading through this!

Hira said...

Loved reading through this piece. So cute and shows the purity of childhood. I kept it for this good off day from the hospital and I enjoyed thoroughly. I kept on thinking about what might have been my first crime and I think it would definitely be the coins I stole from my sister. :P

Anas Shafqat said...

I was kinda missing your blog and last time I had visited you had taken it down I think? Anyway. Thought to search it up and here you are, blogging again. Even though I have pretty much stopped writing now.. it was fun catching up with your stories. Had forgotten how much I loved your writing style and how it still makes me smile. Glad to see you back, Furree.